If a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.”
Those wise words by Samuel Johnson couldn’t ring truer in today’s today and age, courtesy the city’s eclectic and continually-evolving culinary scene. At some point, a Londoner’s life can pretty much be summed up as: another day, another dinner.
Keeping track of the myriad of new openings can be a daunting task. Prioritising how you work your way across them even more so, especially as these restaurants sometimes fall flat of the surrounding hype and built-up-expectations.
So purely in public interest, I’m taking it upon myself to meticulously chronicle the most noteworthy new spots visited in London in 2017. I’ll keep adding to this post as the year progresses, so do keep checking in for the latest recommendations… A foodie’s job is never done!
So this may very well be remembered as the year that cemented the edgy transformation of Indian cuisine in London.
And quite unexpectedly, one of the frontrunners leading the charge is a young British chef Will Bowlby. His experiences living and working in Bombay led to a wildly popular 20-seater pop-up restaurant in a shipping container in Pop Brixton, and subsequently a permanent space in Soho complete with an on-trend open-plan kitchen which you can perch around (the robata grill and tandoor clay oven add a terrifically theatrical touch).
The modern sharing plates here (were you expecting anything else?) marry familiar Indian flavours with seasonal British elements…
Kricket’s now-iconic samphire pakoras are a good way to start (the sprightly green stalks are dressed up with a lightly crisp coating, the salty dimension foiled by a sweet and tangy tamarind chutney). While mains are a revelatory comfort, the Delica pumpkin in particular a thrill not to be missed. Beautifully textured with crumbled hazelnut and fresh cottage cheese, the veggie dish is an edifying cross between a pumpkin curry and paneer makhani that will have you greedily mopping up every last bit of the buttery sauce (ideally with chunks of their even more boisterously buttery masala kulchas!)
Kricket, 12 Denman St, Soho, London W1D 7HH
Classic Italian cuisine is also back in the spotlight this year.
Il Pampero, the new restaurant at the boutique hotel, The Hari, in Belgravia embraces a nostalgia for old-world glamour, whilst serving up a contemporary twist on traditional cooking. Think bartenders clad in white jackets, champagne in coupe glasses, and a theatrical touch with dishes finished table-side including a creamy Cacio e Pepe prepared in a giant wheel of cheese! Full review, here.
When Jason Atherton does American-style Italian, you can be rest-assured of the restaurant’s impossibly-trendy character. The focus here is on pizzas (along with pastas and grills), and although the cooking isn’t as sensational as you’d expect of the Michelin-starred chef’s other establishments, it’s reasonably good and worth a visit if you find yourself in the vicinity of the new Nova Victoria development! Full review, here.
So I didn’t spot either Kendall or Gigi when I visited the new Mayfair-based home of this cult favourite in Paris. But other usual suspects made their appearance in the homely (albeit uncomfortably tiny) surrounds – from the famous Mac Ferdi cheeseburger and macaroni cheese, to the impossibly light and crunchy churros and ice creams served with homemade hot chocolate sauce! Read my full review, here.
Comfort food at its decadent best @Ferdi.London 😋😋 This Parisian favourite is finally open in Mayfair's Shepherd Market and if our lunch was anything to go by, it's likely to fast amass a cult following this side of the Channel too! Welcome to the neighbourhood guys 🙌🏻 #FerdiLondon #NewOpening #TheFoodieDiariesLondon
Spread over six storeys of a Townhouse in the heart of Soho, this new drinking and dining den is a throwback to all the revelry and decadence of the prohibition-era.
We loved the cosiness of the Victorian-inspired Parlour Restaurant; but it were the thrilling cocktails – more than the dinner – which emerged the main draw. The house infusions here show a great degree of brilliance, imparting flavours as varied as quince & blue cheese or venison and summer truffle, to subtly lace the spirit in your chosen tipple!
Six Storeys, 11 Soho Square, Soho, London W1D 3QE
The only thing better than mac and cheese… mac and cheese dished up in a devilishly deep-fried golden form! And this with a gin cocktail infused with a croissant, hobnobs and a hint of Madeira cake 🍸😍 Yep, there was plenty to our liking this evening at the wonderfully cosy Parlour restaurant @SixStoreys – a new drinking & dining den in Soho Square decadently spread across six storeys of a converted townhouse! #SoMuchForDetoxMonday #TheFoodieDiariesLondon
Ralph’s Coffee & Bar
When Ralph Lauren serves coffee, cocktails and food, you can instinctively expect it to do so in a setting which wouldn’t be out of place in a gentleman’s club on the East Coast.
The menu is inspired by classic club-like fare too and although it was simply a whelming affair for us (neither overly-impressive, nor something which merits critiquing), there’s no denying the appeal of this intimate hideout in the heart of London’s shopping district! Read the full review, here.
There are a couple of openings from late last year that I only managed to visit recently…
Jinjuu Mayfair (the cocktails here are as compelling and the Korean eats as satisfying, as at their original restaurant in Soho); and Cinnamon Bazaar (a vibrant new restaurant in Covent Garden dishing up the best chaat I’ve had this side of Bombay.
But in case you’re hungry for more, here’s my list of favourites from 2016.
Find a comprehensive list of all my reviews indexed by cuisine and location, here.